The villagers of Georgeville, Cayo reached a boiling point today when the newly appointed waterboard disconnected their water supply due to “nonpayment.” But the villagers allege that from January to April they had nowhere to pay their bills and no one to pay their bills to, inevitably leaving them three months in arrears. Today , even in the threat to cut their water supply, some villagers remained defiant because they felt their right to elect the members of their water board was circumvented. In 2010, the water board was handed over to Rural Development at the request of the Area Representative Hon. Rene Montero. As recent as the last two weeks, the village council appointed a new water board , allegedly without the approval of the villagers. That is what brought villagers out today in full protest and police officers ready to quell any unruly behavior.
“We have a meeting in April and that meeting was adjourned for a farther date but afterwards they come and pick 7 people to elect the water without the villagers know, they come and just put that pan we, so the villagers don’t agree with that. That’s why we are here today because they cut off up to the school, everybody today has get cut out and I am not satisfied with that. “
“I nuh satisfied, the lady that they appoint fu the water nuh business because she nuh come here, she nuh live yah. When Dito Juan won PUP give we water, we had to dig drain! Man and woman get up and dig drain so I don’t know where they a put me tap ah, that’s all I got to say. Yes no water deh home.”
William Jones, also known as Bill, has sat on the water board for 17 years as the Chairman. He handed over the water board to Rural Development in 2010 at the request of Minister Rene Montero.
” This system belongs to the people of Georgeville, then why don’t the people of Georgeville have at least the opportunity to elect a managing committee to manage their affairs. My thing is this, you cannot force nothing on the people, that looks like a dictator. If it belongs to the people then the people must have a say. Now these people come in and they are doing a lot of things that aren’t correct. If you come into a business, and you find people owe a year’s money coming into the business is not just to say cut this one out and cut that out. When you cut them out you get nothing, your duty is to come in and negotiate collection of that funding make some kind of an agreement on how you will collect it.”
“The chair lady of this community, Ms. Rosetta Williams, has handpicked a couple people from the community and appoint them as the new water board which was done illegally because the village council act stated that you have to consult with the villagers first before you elect a water board. She didn’t consult with the villagers, so as far as we are concerned, this present water board that are doing disconnection, they are illegal. So we want to ask the people from Rural Development and our Area Representative to come into the community to intervene on this problem that we are facing. We want to have a water board that is elected, that are nominated and elected by the villagers of Georgeville.”
“They turn off our water because when they have given the water board, the first water board , three months we don’t have anybody who we could assist to pay our water to. When they elect seven people on the water who the people don’t want, this week they come give up water board and they said they would disconnect us so we are here today.”
Lorna Jones - Community Activist
” And before when the previous water board has been given up, we didn’t have anywhere to pay our water bills, so since two weeks ago the lady they give the presidency to Miss Mari Arnold, she start sending out bills and she has been sending out bills, like three bills to one household, so it’s really a crisis that is happening it’s not just paying your water bills because it’s not like the people don’t want to pay but we will not pay because the present water board right now that we have is illegal. We want to know where our money is going. “
And while some remain defiant to the new waterboard, there are others like William Jones who decided to pay his $40 dollars worth of arrears for the months of January to April. However, he was annoyed that he was billed another fine for re-reconnection.
William ” Bill” Jones – Former Waterboard Chairman
“Then a next simpleness, I paid a bill this morning, I knew that I owed but I owed because while the system was going through crisis a lot of people had nowhere to pay. Now, I paid from January to April, 40 dollars. After I pay $40 this young lady put on my bill $25 balance for disconnection, disconnection what? My water is intact never been disconnected, so why should I pay $25?These are the things they do to all villagers which is totally wrong, and our problem now is that they come in and they appoint a water board without the consent of the villagers. 95% of the villagers are not satisfied, and if something does not happen in due time, then there will be a rebellious time for the people in Georgeville .”
Big businesses like pine lumber were also affected by the cut in water supply. We attempted to get in contact with the chairlady of the waterboard Morine Arnold, but our attempts were unsuccessful. We contacted the village Chairlady Rosetta Williams via phone today who told us she could not give us an interview today but has promised to speak with us tomorrow after she has consulted with her councilors.